As many of you clever writers out there already know, it’s ALA’s Banned Books Week, a yearly celebration in support of reading in general and the First Amendment.
As you also probably know, the four of us here at Upstart Crow are huge readers and have been heavily influenced by a great number of titles on the banned list over the years. And then I discovered, by way of a lovely blog post by my client Josephine Cameron about her struggles with banned books as a child, that young adult writer Jo Knowles has started a fun meme on her blog as a way of celebrating Banned Books Week. Here’s how it works:
- Go find your favorite banned book.
- Take a picture of yourself with said book.
- Give that book some love by explaining why you think it is an important book.
- Post it to your blog.
- Spread the word!
I don’t want to spend too much time boring you with a rehashing of some of the banned books that shaped my life as a reader. I’ve spoken about how Harry Potter changed my perception of children’s books, my love for J.D. Salinger, and how an early introduction to Stephen King in the fourth grade set the tone for years of bookwormery to come.
I will say, however, that I’m grateful for an upbringing in which my love of reading was encouraged. I’m grateful for having the freedom to read whatever I wanted, aside from a few times when my mother said something was “too adult” for me, like with Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game, and asked me not to read it which, of course, made me want to read it more. For the record, I definitely SHOULD NOT have read Gerald’s Game when I was thirteen.
But I digress. My main point is we need books that challenge us, force us to face truths that can be sometimes uncomfortable, and don’t always conform to the accepted norm. Keep writing, keep pushing against the walls, and keep taking risks.
I’m curious to know what some of your favorite banned books are, and how these books worked to shape you as a reader and writer. Let us know in the comments!